Thirty at thirty – Stories to Celebrate 30 Years of Vision Express – with Sam Wilde
Starting her career as a customer service advisor in a team of five, Sam now manages a team of 40 colleagues who look after three helpdesks, serving our customers and stores. We asked Sam how her career journey progressed and what she’s learnt along the way.
Can you summarise your Vision Express journey so far?
I started in 2015 as a customer service advisor with lots of previous experience of the retail industry. I moved into the role of an executive complaints handler and soon progressed to team leader in 2016. For the last 18 months I have been a customer service manager leading a team that helps with queries from customers and our stores. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey in quite a short period, but I’ve always felt ready for the next move and I’ve had the right support along the way.
What were your first impressions of Vision Express?
When I saw the Support Centre, I was literally amazed, the offices looked like something you would see on TV! Honestly, I felt a little overwhelmed to be part of such a big office environment but as soon as I started meeting people from around the business, I quickly realised that this was a place where I could grow and develop my career.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I like that we solve problems. I get to work with so many colleagues from stores and different departments, who are always willing to help me, and my team find the best solution for our customers. A colleague with a broken leg once travelled by taxi to deliver a pair of glasses to a customer at a nearby store! With a can-do attitude, nothing is impossible.
Your role has evolved – how do you support progression within your team?
I love seeing members of my team forming careers within Vision Express, and I see customer services as a great introduction to the business. Team members get a unique insight into the customer and colleague experience so they’re able to develop a good understanding of how it works. The culture of Vision Express allows colleagues to explore different areas of the business if they wish to learn more, and I try to encourage that if someone has an interest.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
I’m not in charge of how other people react or feel. In my role, I’m sometimes faced with challenging conversations but as long as I know I have delivered the message with respect and honesty, I shouldn’t feel offended by the reaction I get.
What or who motivated you to progress your career with Vision Express?
I worked with Claire Pearson (who is now a Divisional Director) and it was inspiring to see how successful a woman can be in business. Her kindness coupled with a strong will and independence made it more real to me and it cemented the idea of Vision Express being a place where I could develop my career.
What one piece of advice do you always give to new starters?
Have confidence in any decision you make. I instil this confidence in my team, so they are comfortable using their initiative to liaise directly with colleagues to resolve customer queries. Being able to take ownership helps in any role.
You’ve taken part in the Ride4Sight twice!
Yes, I was encouraged by my dad to take on the challenge for a good cause – he helped me train and it really strengthened our relationship. Even though I suffered a knee injury after the 2016 Ride4Sight, I really wanted to do it again this year, but it was much tougher!
It’s hard to describe how it felt to be part of such an amazing fundraising effort. When we met children affected by Retinoblastoma, our pain and suffering went out the window. The team formed an amazing bond, and everyone motivated each other – it’s been a highlight not only of my career but of my life.